I love going to shows in Detroit. The crowds tend to be enthusiastic, and almost all the venues are top notch. Near the top of that list is the Majestic Theater complex, which also contains the Magic Stick, and is a bit more intimate than it’s big brother. This past Sunday night, the Majestic hosted Desaparecidos, who have spent ten plus years away from touring while lead singer Conor Oberst’s main gig (Bright Eyes) has enjoyed massive success. The long layoff hasn’t appeared to affect Desaparecidos, however, as the band delivered a crunching one hour plus set, much to the delight of the Detroit crowd.
First things first though.
The evening started with New York band the So-So Glos. who managed to warm up the crowd nicely with a set of 60’s garage inspired punk music. Lead singer and bass player Alex Levine revved the crowd up, involving the somewhat reluctant hipsters into a sing-a-long. Eventually the kids joined in, and then the band welcomed tour mate Conor Oberst in for a song, which of course ignited the crowd even more. The So So Glos set finished with a Lou Reed cover, as well as a ferocious punk song, which elicited a nice ovation from the appreciative Majestic fans.
In the interim before the headlining act came out, I got the chance to chat with Alex Levine real quickly. He seemed to genuinely appreciate the city, so we did a shot of Jameson, because that’s what we do in Detroit.
Now on to the main act.
For those not familiar with Desaparecidos, it’s an anti-consumerist punk band from Omaha whose lead singer (Conor Oberst) has a more familiar and successful full time band (Bright Eyes). However, as this night showed, Oberst might be better off having Desaparecidos as his regular gig. With only one proper album, the fantastic “Read Music/Speak Spanish”, and a handful of recently released singles, the band played essentially it’s entire arsenal of music. It was a full blown guitar assault on the crowd, and on that night we could not be more thankful. Oberst and crew seemed at complete ease with each other while playing classic crowd pleasers like ‘Greater Omaha’ and ‘Manana’. A major highlight for me was when the band ripped into ‘The Happiest Place on Earth’, and at that point it seemed the crowd was feeling like the show was just that.
It wasn’t all old songs for the Oberst and the gang either. The new tracks have considerable punch as well, with ‘Te Amo Camila Vallejo’ and ‘Anonymous’ showing considerable promise as future album cuts. The new songs garnered a nice response from the audience, and we can only hope we see a new album soon.
The So So Glos weren’t the only ones to pay homage to recently deceased Lou Reed on Sunday night either. Desaparecidos also covered Reed, and brought out it’s opening band to join them on stage as well. It was more a celebration of Reed, and it is always nice to see two bands performing on stage that seem to genuinely like each other. By the time the show was over, the younger crowd up front was physically exhausted, and the whole crowd left appreciating that the band had reunited.
The one negative about the show was Oberst had a tendency to get a bit preachy about his politics in between songs. At one point when I said out loud “Just play a song”, I noticed some others nodding their heads around me. While Oberst’s anti-political rants definitely fit in the landscape of what is happening in Detroit right now, we bought tickets to listen to some excellent music and be entertained. Oberst’s political views may be a part of the core of who he is and the music he writes, but at times his speeches got long and slowed the momentum of what his band was doing on stage, and that was absolutely shredding it.